The Cost of Dental Care Shouldn’t Keep You Away

wpid-img_20130830_100750.jpgOn Friday past, the Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s national leading newspapers, published a piece about the cost of dental care in Canada and how it is keeping patients away (read it here). There’s no way I was going to read this without addressing it.

First off, we’re spoiled in Nova Scotia with dental care essentially being taken care of (there are restrictions) until the age of 14 (with the intent of increasing coverage until age 16), also being covered if you’re on social assistance. Maybe we as a province are nuts spending our tax payers dollars this way, but in my opinion, if every province followed suit the overall cost of dentistry would dramatically decrease (Ontario, I’m looking at you and the insane rate of childhood caries and cost to fix them).

Prevention is the easiest and cheapest way to keep dental costs down. It starts at home. Brush effectively; floss, more than once every six months- your toothbrush is incapable of getting in between the contact of teeth; drink water and limit acidic drinks (coffee, wine, juice, energy drinks), have a good dental exam and cleaning at a minimum of every 12 months. Some people need more but if it comes down to money, once a year really is better than nothing. If good dental care is initiated early (don’t even try and give me any of the ”my kid hates brushing their teeth” crap), it will sustain their oral health throughout life.

Fact: there are very few congenital enamel deficiencies (ie. you did not ‘inherit’ soft teeth from your dad) which may lead to dental troubles and thus increased costs.

As for the cost involved, having your teeth ”cleaned” (a word I loath) at least once per year, will likely run you anywhere from $125-$225 depending on a few different factors. Paying the $125-$225 per year not only ensures you have a good chance and maintaining a good foundation of oral health, it will allow you to stay on top of any other issues that may arise. Dealing with something when it is small, especially in dentistry, is almost always a cheaper option. If you end up needed a filling or two every few years, dealing with them when they’re first diagnosed (within a 12 month period) it won’t cost you much more than $250 likely.

Fact: assume one cleaning per year and one filling every three years will cost approximately $300 per year or $25 per month, is that a little more doable Canada?

Want to avoid restorative dentistry entirely? I sure want you to. If you do your job, and I do my job, and you listen to me as your dental hygienist, we, as a team, can make it possible (outside of accidents) to never see a dentist. It is possible to never have a filling or other major work done but you still need to have your teeth checked and cleaned at least once per year.

We as an industry are not trying to gouge you. In Nova Scotia for example, a fee guide is issued by our provincial dental board. The prices are not just made up by your dentist. Our equipment and materials are very expensive. There are no Chinese-made instruments. Almost everything you see is made in Canada, USA or Europe, countries where we’re paying people at least a minimum wage to fabricate. Also, we as a team (dentist, their assistant and your hygienist) are all very well educated. I don’t think you’d question paying for a well educated and knowledgeable person vs. not.

If you do need expensive work done look at other options. There are almost always options. Are there dental schools you can go to? Will your dentist do payment plans (a big reason it pays to build and maintain a good relationship with one provider)? Can you hold off of the work with a temporary solution until you come up with the money?

As a person who works in the dental industry I get really frustrated by ignorance and people who are quick to judge without getting the facts straight. So, if you’re one of the six million Canadians who are avoiding dental care, as reported to a ”blue ribbon panel” because of the cost, please don’t let it discourage you. There are solutions, this easiest being to prevent the issue from arising in the first place, a simple solution all too often ignored. A ”cleaning” is so much more than just removing stains and making your teeth feel smooth.

While I’m at it, quit the disgusting energy drinks which are quite literally acid washing your teeth, not to mention killing you and give up the cigarettes (just gross beyond medical and dental issues). Added bonus, you’ll have more money and one less excuse as to why you can’t afford dentistry.

/end rant.

It’s Been a Long Week

I don’t normally do this but I haven’t had time this week to finish any of the blog posts I’ve started! I haven’t been feeling 100% and just didn’t have the energy. I’ll be honest some of my blogging time has been consumed with me reading, a book, which I don’t make enough time for (kids will do that to you!). I’ll be back next week with finished posts, and hope to get some comments up on all your blogs (I’ve been reading just no interactions, sorry) until then have a great weekend! I’ll be stuffing my face with these insane things which are a total and complete waste of money but so weirdy good.wpid-img_20140910_182623.jpg

August 2014 Debt Repayment Update

1958003_10100445146355879_7304944815605772689_nI’m always a little late with these updates but better late than never I guess! Part of the reason I don’t write these posts for the first of the month is because I often don’t make any final extra debt payments for the month until the last day of the month or the first day of the upcoming month. I still consider these funds to be apart of August debt repayment though since the payment is coming from funds earned in August even if I don’t make the payment until September 01.

August was a better month than July. I was able to put a little back in the ER fund as well as a chunk of change onto debt. All this on top of enjoying a little summer fun which included a weekend away as well as a few other little day trips and visiting. Our minimum debt payments is larger then some mortgages so though we were able to put $1,979 towards debt this month, we have to remember that our minimum monthly payment for these debts is $1,451 which means we threw an extra $528 towards debt this month, a number I’m happy with especially considering we had such an expense-filled month.

I still think a lot about the order in which we want to tackle our debts. Given that we we’ve had a few vehicle worries lately (issues that we think are resolved but don’t know for sure), I really want to get the vehicle loan paid off soon even though it’s one of the lowest interest rates of all our debts. I just want the peace of mind or knowing if something big does happen to it we won’t be screwed with not having it paid off. The vehicle is only three years old so we shouldn’t encounter too many issues though (fingers and toes crossed).

How was everyone’s August endeavors, debt repayment or not?

Students, Just Because You’re Given a Discount Doesn’t Mean You Have to Use It!

I had a rare extended lunch break at work earlier this week and seized the opportunity to get some fresh air and go for a walk around my work, which happens to be on one of the busiest streets in the country. There was something clearly obvious, school was back in. In a city of multiple universities and collages on top of the normal elementary and secondary schools, when school is back, it is incredibly obvious.

Aside from the extra 35,000 people descending on the city and increase in foot traffic during my walk, the other obvious sign that students were back in? Student discount offers in every. single. window. Seriously from the electronics store, to the utilities store to the pizza store, all of them were throwing discounts at students and not just suggesting but demanding they use their student discount at their location, as a non student it was overwhelming, I can’t imagine how a student might feel. I can see clearly how it is so easy to spend more money then they need to while pursuing post secondary studies.

Most all of our debt is from my post secondary education, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I spend more than I needed to on offers just like this. The temptation is real and I’m here to tell every student out there, just because you have a student discount, doesn’t mean you have to use it!

Student discounts aren’t always a burden, some of the offers have the potential to save students thousands of dollars throughout their studies. If you use any service at all, from insurance and banking to eating pizza, always ask if they offer a student discount! Just because they don’t publicize one doesn’t mean they don’t offer. At my work, a dental office, though we don’t have a true student discount we would never turn a student away for lack of money and would always offer a discounted price if they asked. It doesn’t hurt to ask, in fact I suggest you call all the services you normally use and capitalize on it.

Where student discounts get detrimental is when you start using it on products or services you don’t need or use. Especially if it encourages you to sign up to a long-term service such as cable. I never had time for TV while I was in school and if I did I’d almost always watch the online version the day after, in between study sessions. You don’t need that student discounted price of $95/month, it is not saving you anything, in fact you’ll end up wasting over $3,000 in the course of a four year degree (with an eight month school year) if you do get that deal that is ”too good to pass up”.

Being a student was one of the best times of my life. I loved the lifestyle, the social life and the fact that, at the time, I could live like the rest of the world didn’t exist simply because I was enthralled with my studies. Life and post secondary finances will get back to you. Use your money wisely, don’t be afraid to not spend your money when friends are and be aware that just because someone else is telling you it is a good deal, doesn’t mean it is.

Would You Rather Spend All Your Money While Alive or Leave It For After You Die?

wpid-img_20140804_194830.jpgGrowing up a friend of mine found out his grandfather was terminally ill at a fairly young age. He was in pretty good health (otherwise) but knew he’d be dead likely within the year. The grandfather sat the family down and explained the situation with the family. He wanted to take the stigma out of talking about death and money and wanted to make sure he appropriated his money the way he wanted to spend it. He didn’t want to leave a bunch of cash for the family to deal with after the fact.

He took the entire immediate family (eight total including him) on a vacation for two weeks in Europe, a trip most of the family members would never have been able to afford. He explained that he wanted to see his family enjoy a trip of a lifetime while he was living rather than him looking down and feeling like he missed out.

I have to be honest, given that we’re on hardcore debt repayment mode, we’re not quite yet thinking about retirement let alone estate planning. I do know however that I have zero intention of building a retirement fund that includes any ”leftovers” for my children though. I’m in the school of thought that would rather help them (or others) while alive. I want to be the one seeing the enjoyment while alive rather than after I’m gone.

Some people, for example, may choose to give their children money for a downpayment on their first home (I have varying thoughts about this) but this may be a way for someone to spend their money before death. If this is what the parents want to do (rather than leaving a decent chunk of change after death) then who are we to judge?

A little different but we already have intentions of paying for most, if not all our daughters post secondary education. This is a massive ticket item in my mind. Money we’re giving to her to she can start her adult life out on the right foot (ideally debt free) and money that we are not investing in ourselves. The fact is that if we didn’t have a child, or we chose not investing in her post secondary education, it would be more money in our pocket/retirement accounts but I would rather spend this money on her than have that much more in retirement at the end of the day.

Everyone is different, my grandparents passed away with a very large estate, even if they hadn’t died at a young age they still would have had a significant amount of money. This just won’t be me. You better believe if I find myself to be a 85-year-old woman, and still have a bunch of money left to my name, God willing you’ll find me flying around the world looking to eat the rest of my money at the best restaurants around, enjoying every last penny, after all I earned it and I want to enjoy it.

Are you planning on spending it all or saving some for future generations (or donate to charity/give it all away/anything)?

Our Mini Family Vacation

This summer we had no true plans and truthfully I was looking forward to spending it just relaxing and taking it one day at a time. Only one wedding at the end of the summer to worry about so for the most part, doing what we want! Somehow every free second we had was consumed and I felt like we were more busy this summer then we have in the past few years that had involved some pretty extensive travel.

One plan we did make was to travel to our neighboring province for a weekend away with our family (my tripod plus the in-laws+ sister-in-law and beau). Destination? Airshow! My father-in-law is retired military and though my husband has no direct military connections, loves anything that flies. Our daughter is also pretty obsessed with airplanes so it was a great opportunity to get away.

Even though we were only three hours from home it felt like so much more. I personally haven’t been to this city since I was quite young and it was much nicer than I remember. We booked our hotel room on a discount site and shared the room with my sister-in-law saving big bucks. It was a newly renovated room with a view of the river behind out hotel, we chose this particular hotel because it included parking and a hot breakfast. Most other hotels had a $10+ charge per day to park and nothing for breakfast included which meant we would have needed to spend more money on food.

The only plan we had was to attend the actual airshow, everything else was up in the air and we sort of did what we wanted. We explored a bit and on the way home stopped at an old fort from the 1700’s, one of those places I’ve driven past a millions times in my life but never stopped in. I loved everything about our weekend. Kiddo’s schedule was totally off but she was a trooper and we all had an amazing time.

 

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When was the last time you got away??

Why You Should Never Get Too Comfortable in a Job

wpid-img_20130830_100750.jpgFor the most part I really enjoy where I work. It’s a small office with very little room for drama, one person has the potential to throw everything off, thankfully there’s none of that to worry about. We’re a close group of people who all get along despite our varying backgrounds. The patients are great and I have been exposed to some pretty amazing learning opportunities at this office that I really don’t think I would have learned anywhere else.

In my line of work I feel it is important to find roots and build a rapport with both fellow employees and most importantly, the patients. After five years in the same office I think I have accomplished this. I am the only hygienist in this office and other than the random vacation day or my maternity leave, I’m the only face they see. People are comfortable with me and I have formed some pretty amazing relationships in my five years here, but for my professional well-being, I can’t allow myself, nor can you, to ever get too comfortable in a job.

I’m not suggesting you don’t look for a place of employment that you can potentially put some permanent roots down, become one of those employees who retires from the same place after 25+ years, but I am telling you to never stop looking for more, for better.

I started at this job as a maternity leave position where the lady decided not to return to work and instead become a stay at home mom. I was excited to find out I had a permanent position after thinking I would only have the one year maternity leave for job security. I think I was so excited to have a permanent position in a competitive field that I sort of let myself go a bit.

I never stopped being great at what I do. I’d like to think that I’m excellent at my job and that shows in both patient satisfaction and positive praise from my employers. What I did do was stop searching for more. I was so delusional about the fact that I had a job I could essentially keep forever, no more interviews, no more anxious first few days that for a few years I stopped aiming higher.

By getting too comfortable in a job I stopped searching what was out there, and God only knows the opportunities I’ve potentially missed. For the first few years a raise was just given to me, no questions asked (and I never once checked to see if they were even fair) then there were some shifts within the company and I haven’t received one since. I let my comfort in job security prevent me from even figuring out what I should be making as a wage. I’ve spent the last three years of my professional life living in a bubble. Wages have gone up 5% or more and I didn’t even care to notice. I was too busy being comfortable with the fact that I had a job. I’ve also stopped practicing some skills that, though I don’t currently need them would be an advantage at another job.

I remember landing this same job and negotiating my hourly rate. He offered one thing and kindly pointed out many reasons why I deserved more. Yes I was a new grad but had so many other interpersonal skills to offer I thought I deserved more. Right off the bat I got more and I think it’s time he and I have a chat again. I’m done with being comfortable. I’m confident in my skills and have come to realize just what’s out there for me, I need my employer to see the same!

How do you avoid getting too comfortable professionally and potentially missing opportunities?

Beating The Need to Spend: Anniversary Edition

wedding.jpgToday is our fifth wedding anniversary. I have no idea where five years went but it’s gone. It’s been quite a journey from newlyweds to homeowners to now wrangling our toddler to sleep in her own bed and explaining to her why she can’t hold the moon tonight.

We’ve always been very practical people. It was quickly outlined in our first year of dating. For my 18th birthday my (then boyfriend) bought me a gold chain bracelet. Though it was beautiful, I didn’t know if, when, or how to tell him he should have saved his money or if he insisted, bought something a little more practical. I was not then, nor am I now, a jewelry person. It took a little courage but I finally found the courage to tell my sweet and sensitive boyfriend that though I appreciate the thought, he really didn’t need to waste his money on me, especially lavish gold chains. I was nervous he’d be insulted but instead it was sheer relief. For a 17 year old boy I think when we formally announced our relationship he expected money to fly out of his pocket, I assured him it wouldn’t.

As the years and milestones went on so did our against-the-grain, frugal celebrations. Forget five-star Valentine’s day celebrations, I think (the day) is stupid and we go out of our way to be as unromantic as possible (which has since turned into a bit of an unexpected tradition) of getting the grossest cheapest fast food (think McD’s) to eat at home, in PJ’s. Our first Christmas in our home we decided to forgo gifts and buy something for our new home instead. One of my most favorite gifts ever was my dishwasher. You get the point.

Some may call us cheap but we’re not doing these things for extreme financial reasons. We’re just uber practical people who would rather spend money on things other than $6.49 anniversary cards that are pretty but will end up in a drawer or garbage next week. Society can sometimes make us feel bad for the choices we make, like we’re bad people for not dropping a bunch of cash on a lavish night out celebrating but we’ve resisted the urge to spend money to please other (non-important) people’s standards thus far.

We are who we are and that’s why I love him. Not to say he doesn’t surprise me with the occasional special treat like flowers or cookie delivery to work its infrequent and usually accompanies something I really need, like new laundry basket.

The fifth wedding anniversary ”gift” is wood. Though an engraved cutting board, beautiful jewelry box or custom coasters would be great gifts for someone, I think we’ll take the bundle of wood in our back yard and burn it ;)

 

 

 

How To Deal With Rejection

On Monday my husband picked me up from work with surprise ice cream in hand (before we picked the kid up so I could actually eat it, bonus points). It had been a particularly long day where nothing was going right, including getting confirmation that I didn’t get the job I had interviewed for two weeks ago.

I’m not totally surprised though. It was a bit of a long-shot and I was surprised to be in the final two contenders. The office manager explained that everyone loved me, that it had nothing to do with me, my skills or anything else except the girl I was competing with had one skill set I haven’t practiced since it was taught to me, what would have been seven years ago now. A skill I could re-learn very quickly but when it came down to it, we were equals she just had a slight advantage being given the opportunity to work in this particular area before. The office manager also explained that they enjoyed me enough to tell me that as soon as next position becomes available, the job is mine and she won’t even post it publicly if I’m still interested come the time (at this office I’m not holding my breath that it will be any time soon given they just filled their vacancies with what will likely be long-term employees).

When faced with rejection it’s easy to just put your head down and micro-analyze what when wrong without looking for solutions. Instead, we need to accept it wasn’t meant to be and move forward. Every opportunity in life grants you a learning opportunity you just need to find it. Rejection can be prime time to make a learning opportunity. This applies to everything from breakups to job loss. Figure out why it didn’t work out and if it is necessary to improve for next time.

I didn’t get the job but that doesn’t mean I’m just done. I need to learn something from this experience. I’m still in a job I like though isn’t ideal. For me I need to make the most of my current situation, but how?

  • First, applying for this job has re-opened my eyes to the job market a bit. I’m approaching my boss about a raise. I’m overdue and deserve it, I have a plan, one I will likely share come the time.
  • Second, I’m going to look at what I was missing and improve myself to make myself more competitive for the future. They were looking for someone who held a skill I haven’t practiced in seven years. I’m also going to approach my boss about re-teaching me this skill since I work in an office that preforms this skill-set but the dentist does it all where normally, in 2014, it’s something hygienist does at least partially. If he doesn’t want to give up this aspect of his practice, he’s been doing things this way for 28 years so I don’t know he will, I will approach a specialty office about possibly giving me a training day, for free. I’d be looking to tag along for a day, working for free all I want is to learn some stuff.
  • Thirdly, if I’m going to be sticking around this office for a while longer I need to make my situation as good as I can. I’m going to again chat with my boss about changing a few things and ordering me some new items. Though this is normally no big deal I’m looking to spend a few thousand dollars so I’ll need his approval.

The hardest part for me will be nailing down some time to actually talk to him. It’s impossible. I’m going to start with a warning remark about how I need some of his time and try to find a few minutes in the next week to make it happen and hope he works with me to find the time…

Rejection sucks but I’ll be in a better situation next time if I take the time to learn from it, and so will you.

How do you deal with rejection?

Budget Bedroom Update #1: Using Vinyl Wall Art

We’ve officially been living in our house for over four years. I have no idea where the time went but we just got around to painting our master bedroom earlier this year. Part of the reason being I couldn’t make my mind up about the color but we made a decision and haven’t regretted it once. After the paint was up and new duvet cover was on the bed, we sort of stalled…and stalled…and stalled. It took me four years to decide on paint color so figuring out how we were going to finish the room, on budget, was a challenge. One I’m up for I just needed time to figure it all out.

When we were living in our apartment I was excited to make our first place feel like home, which was tough living within the constraints of the apartment. We couldn’t paint and were very limited as to what we could hang on the wall basically anything beyond a thumb tack wasn’t allowed. Using vinyl as a decoration is something I first came across on Pinterest. Living in an apartment, this was a perfect solution, vinyl goes up fast and comes down just as easy. I may have gone a little vinyl wall art crazy.

I decided to try a little wall art fun again in our bedroom with a vinyl wall quote on a small wall near our door.

wpid-20140808_145445.jpgI really like the quote and see it everyday when we wake up. So, very, true. I’d be nothing without my husband and daughter beside me in everything I do!

You can order vinyl wall art from many, many sites (check out thequotesworld.com for examples). I personally am a fan of vinyl wall quotes but you can get basically anything you can dream up. My daughter told me the chrysanthemum flower was bbeeaauuutttiiifffuuullll!

Other quotes I really liked were:

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We still have a few more things to put up on the wall, a-la-DIY no doubt, but it’s slowly coming along!

Have you ever decorated with vinyl? Did you like it?